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Civil rights activist explores revolutionary love in CSU keynote

Valarie+Kaur+presents+Building+Bridges+with+Revolutionary+Love+at+the+Lory+Student+Center+Theater+April+16.
Collegian | Daryn Whitmoyer
Valarie Kaur presents about the Revolutionary Love Project at the Lory Student Center Theatre April 16. The project is “a movement to create a healthy society inclusive of diverse beliefs and identities,” according to the Colorado State University Adult Learner and Veteran Services website.

An audience of individuals from various backgrounds was united under one mission through the powerful cadence of civil rights activist and author Valarie Kaur, who presented her philosophy on building bridges through “revolutionary love.”

Hosted by Colorado State University Multifaith and Belief Initiatives, Kaur delivered her keynote speech in the Lory Student Center Theatre April 16. Kaur spoke on the Revolutionary Love Project, an initiative geared toward creating a healthy society inclusive of identities and beliefs, as written on the Adult Learner and Veteran Services website.

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“We consider this the kind of grand opening of the Multifaith and Belief Initiatives because Valarie’s message of revolutionary love, especially building bridges across differences of belief, is something that our culture needs so desperately (right now),” Multifaith and Belief Initiatives Task Force member Elizabeth Sink said. 

A graduate of Yale Law School, Kaur has been an activist for over 20 years. She began this journey after Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh father and family friend, was the first person murdered in hate violence after 9/11. 

“The loudest voices in the world right now (are) running on the energies of cruelty and fear and scarcity. My most vigilant spiritual practice is to get quiet enough, to get still enough, to listen to the wise woman in me.” –Valarie Kaur, civil rights author and activist

Kaur defines revolutionary love in her book “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love” as a deliberate, active choice rather than a blind sensation — a force that can deliver a shift in consciousness and culture.

Kaur’s philosophy can be broken up into three prongs: See No Stranger, Tend the Wound and Breathe and Push. Audience members received a Revolutionary Love Compass, which visually represented each category and its subparts.

The See No Stranger section includes three subsections: fight, grieve and wonder, which Kaur defined as the practice of returning love as a labor to others by considering what others need.

“Who we see as one of us shapes whose greed we let in our heart, whose stories we hear, what policies we support and what leaders we elect,” Kaur said. “Demagogues succeed and dehumanize entire groups of people when they shut down our collective ability to wonder about others.”

Kaur continued on to the Tend the Wound section, which includes reimagining, listening and rage. The first step is, at a personal level, to understand where one’s rage originates and how it categorizes important parts of their identity. Then, she argues, one can listen to the opponent.

“Deep listening is an act of surrender,” Kaur said. “You risk being changed by it. When two people are engaged in the process, a portal opens of unimaginable possibility of reconciliation.”

This deep listening can give way to forgiveness, which plays into the role of reimagining, which serves a role for the individual more than the opponent.

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“It is up to the survivor to decide,” Kaur said. “What I do know is that forgiveness frees you — not them. Forgiveness is for you.”

For the final section, Breathe and Push, Kaur highlighted the subparts breathe, push and transition. Kaur explained how she had slowly shifted away from listening to the little critic inside her. 

“The loudest voices in the world right now (are) running on the energies of cruelty and fear and scarcity,” Kaur said. “My most vigilant spiritual practice is to get quiet enough, to get still enough, to listen to the wise woman in me.” 

Ultimately, each person has a role to play within the revolution. 

“Every one of us has a particular role in the labor,” Kaur said. “Is it your time? Is it your voice? Is it your pen? Is it your tongue? Is it your leadership? What is the one thing that you can do that you can offer and trust that it’s enough?”

Reach Katie Fisher at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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